By Paul Gable
Once the state’s most powerful politician, Bobby Harrell may now be the state’s most important informant.
Harrell pleaded guilty to six counts of misusing campaign money being sentenced to one year in jail for each charge. The jail time will be avoided pending successful completion of three years of probation and payment of $130,000 in fines and penalties.
However, Harrell also had to agree to resign his House seat immediately and sign an agreement to cooperate with SLED and FBI investigators in any other investigations of which he may have knowledge. Part of that cooperation will include the use of a lie detector to determine Harrell’s truthfulness.
Therein lies the wild card. Does this mean investigations of other lawmakers? Probably. Could it also include Coastal Kickback? It could. U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles attended Harrell’s arraignment even though all the charges against Harrell were state charges.
What is does mean is in order to avoid jail time, Harrell had to agree to inform (rat?) on others who worked closely with him through the years.
Some predict ongoing investigations of other lawmakers could rise to the level of Lost Trust. Others aren’t so sure.
But, one thing is certain, the most “interesting” press release about the Harrell plea deal came from S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office yesterday. The final paragraph read:
“Going forward, as South Carolina’s chief prosecutor, if there is any reason to believe that Mr. Harrell is not honoring the terms of the plea agreement, this office will forward relevant information to Solicitor Pascoe for further action.”
Talk about being in a vise!
A number of seats in the General Assembly just got a lot hotter for reasons other than election in 11 days.